Interview with Troy Prince, Pt 2

  1.  Troy, I’ve learned from you that being on the Midway is a family affair.  Did you all decide to be stationed on the Midway accidently or coincidently?  How many of your family have served on the Midway and when? Were you ever on at the same time as any of your cousins?

There have been four of my family who served aboard the Midway. We are all cousins and three of us were actually aboard at the same time:

  • ATCS Shirley Duane Bangerter, VA-23, 1963
  • LT David Scott Killpack, HS-12, 1989-1991
  • AN Marcus Steven Killpack, VAQ-136, 1989
  • ADAN Thomas Troy Prince, VAQ-136 1989-1991

2. What has been your most difficult information request from the Midway Library since you have become a volunteer?

I can honestly say I have never received a difficult request from the Midway Library. Some requests have required more research than others and there have been a few I was unable to answer due to a lack of source material.

3. What do you like best about being a Midway Library volunteer?

I love working with the other Library volunteers. Although I’ve never met any of them in person (I work remotely from Minneapolis), I feel I’ve made many friends and work well with everyone.

4. What types of information have you been providing to the Midway? 

,In the beginning, when the Museum first opened, I contributed the ship’s history research I had done for my website. I was also able to occasionally help with questions and provide various photos. Later, I began asking for various documents and started offering updates or corrections. Since 2019, I have written or contributed to several lists and projects. My main contribution has been deployment dates, locations, and squadrons.

5. How many volunteer hours have you earned since you started (the nearest 1000 hour level will be fine.)  And how long have you been a volunteer?

As of October 2021, I have now exceeded 2,000 hours. I officially became a Library volunteer in June 2020.

6. Have you planned your next visit to the Midway?  Hint Hint, the volunteer dinner in September would be a good time, if it works with your schedule.

I have visited the Midway three times since her arrival in San Diego: January 2004 (I rode the ship across San Diego Bay from NAS North Island to her present location), June 2004 (for the Museum’s Opening Week, during which I volunteered with the Safety Team) and March 2005. I have always wanted to make a return visit (or two or many) but haven’t been able to yet. There have been so many changes and additions to the Museum that it will be a whole new experience for me when I am finally able to return.

7. Is there a project that you would like to be involved in, but have not yet had the opportunity to?

To date, I am involved in every project I would like to be with and have even been able to contribute towards others I wasn’t. I really have so many projects I’m currently working on that I have to prioritize them in order to make any progress. However, it is nice to have some smaller projects to work on when I need to take a break from the larger ones.

8. Have you ever thought about writing a Midway related book?  If so, what might it  be about?

I never thought about writing a book until my family and a few friends suggested I should take the research I’ve done and publish it. If I ever do go through with it, it wouldn’t be a story-type book like Scott McGaugh’s books. It would most likely be similar to Pete Clayton’s books, but with much more updated information and photographs.

9. Do you have a good Midway sea story that you would like to share?

I only have one good story and it was when I witnessed one of Midway’s planes crash right in front of me:  On June 22, 1989, while in the South China Sea, about 90 miles west of the Philippine island of Luzon, I watched VFA-151’s F/A-18A Hornet (BuNo. 162908, NF 207) experience an engine failure while being launched from Midway’s starboard catapult. I was standing all the way forward on the port bow with one of our EA-6B Prowlers and watched NF 207 go down the cat with sparks flying out behind it. The aircraft became airborne, suddenly wobbled and went into the water directly in front of the ship. All I could see as it hit was a huge spray of water and smoke with a parachute floating down. The Hornet sank immediately, and the ship turned hard to port to avoid hitting the pilot, LCDR D.C. Conrad who was rescued soon after by a helo from HS-12.

10. Is there anything about your volunteer experience that you would like to share with us?

Only that all the volunteers I work with are wonderful people and that there aren’t enough hours in the day to work on all the projects I’m involved with.

Troy’s bio from

I started out in life as a “Military Brat” because my father was in the U.S. Navy. I spent my early years moving around the States and the world. After high school, I decided that I “liked” the military life so much that I joined up myself. I spent ten years in the Navy, with nine of those stationed in Japan. I was assigned to the Gauntlets of VAQ-136, an EA-6B Prowler Electronic Warfare squadron for the first three years. Our home port was NAF Atsugi, Japan and we embarked aboard USS Midway, CV-41. When Midway was replaced by USS Independence, CV-62, I cross-decked over to the  Indy with the squadron. After I left the squadron in 1992, I transferred to a two year shore duty billet at NAF Atsugi AIMD. I then transferred to another shore duty billet at NAF Misawa AIMD for four years.

Escape from the Pentagon Library

This is a written interview with my friend and National Defense University Library co-worker, Lily McGovern. In September 2001, Lily was a reference librarian at the Pentagon Library (PL) . The Library was in the section of the Pentagon hit by the plane, but because it mostly in the inner most or A ring, the plane did not penetrate that far into the building.

During the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—60 years to the day after construction began on the Pentagon—a hijacked plane struck the building, killing 189 people and damaging roughly one-third of the building.

From History.Com
  1. Where were you when the plane hit  and what were you doing?

I was at my desk in the Pentagon Library (PL).  I had been on vacation and it was my first day back at work.  Someone heard about events in New York so we were watching the planes hit the World Trade Center on the TV in the PL.  It was upsetting to watch the tragedy in NY, especially the second plane hitting the World Trade Center and the collapse of the Twin Towers, so I decided to get back to work at my desk.

I should add for anyone who is not familiar with the layout of the Pentagon that the PL was previously in space that straddled wedges 1 and 2 of the Pentagon renovation project.  The temporary wall erected between wedge 1 and wedge 2 was actually in the library area.  There was a lot of planning and physical work to rearrange the PL and squeeze into a much smaller space.  Since the temporary wall between the renovation wedges cut off the A ring at the PL, the library gained some space from what had been the A ring corridor.  The front door was now in the A ring. For over a year we could hear the sounds of wedge 1 being stripped to the bare concrete, construction equipment backing up, jackhammers, saws, drills and all that. 

When I heard the big boom, I immediately thought that someone had dropped a big heavy something in wedge 1.  They were moving offices into the renovated area and we knew that shelving was being installed in the part of wedge 1 where the PL would be.

Note: From the Pentagon Renovation Program, Wikipedia:

Wedge 1 was the first above-ground section of the Pentagon to undergo renovation. Demolition of the existing structure and hazardous material abatement began in 1998, and the first move-in of tenants occurred in February 2001. The last tenants moved in on February 6, 2003.

The renovation of Wedge 1 involved the renovation of one million square feet of space. This involved the removal of 83 million pounds of debris (70% of this was able to be recycled), and 28 million pounds of hazardous material. The renovation also saw the installation of eight new passenger elevators, new blast-resistant windows, escalators traversing all five floors, skylights, a new HVAC system, a new communications infrastructure, and a new open-plan office layout.

The Library was between Wedge 1 (in blue) and Wedge 2 (in light green). It was on the first floor in the A (or inner most ring.)

2. How as the word spread on what to do? What did you do?

One of my coworkers saw the heavy glass doors of the PL swing open as we heard the big boom.  He yelled that it was a bomb and to get away from the windows which lined that side of the library.  I recall being told to evacuate the PL and that people who exited using our fire evacuation route came back saying there was smoke that direction.  I was checking with the other librarians to see that we got everyone to leave and when we were sure, I left. I don’t recall whether the fire alarms went off. Funny how many details I have forgotten over the years. You might think I’d remember it so clearly but not thinking or talking about my experience for years has faded my memory.

3. Were you allowed to get your personal items, such as a purse or take anything with you when you exited the library?

Luckily since I was at my desk. I shut down my computer and grabbed my purse, pretty much as a reflex action.  During fire drills, it might take a while to get back into the building and I seem to always need a tissue.  My friends who left with only their Pentagon badges, which we had to wear at all times, were not allowed back into the PL to retrieve their purses and belongings for several months.  They had to cancel credit cards, replace driver’s licenses, and any important items. They also didn’t have money or their Metro passes unless they kept them with their badge..

4. How did you exit the Library and where did you go?

Since our usual exit route had smoke, we exited into the A ring through the PL’s main door and over to the exit to north parking. Going through the Pentagon there was no sign of smoke and the only unusual thing was people moving fast towards the exit or in the direction of where the smoke was seen by my coworkers.  I felt no great danger as I exited the building.

 I carpooled with Ann Parham who was the Army Librarian and worked in an office in the renovated and reopened part of Wedge 1. We were parked in north parking so I went to her car.  Once I was outside the building, security guards were telling people to move away from the building and smoke was visible around the side of the building that faces Henderson Hall and Arlington Cemetery.  People were saying that a plane had hit the building.  It was a very sunny and warm day for September.  Very soon the guards were telling us that we had to move farther away from the parking lot because there was another airplane that could be headed for us.  I scribbled a note to Ann that I was out of the building and OK, placed it under the windshield wiper and started walking away with some of my coworkers.

5. How did they account for everyone and were there any library staff who could not be accounted for?

There was no opportunity to account for everyone once we evacuated.  It was standard procedure to insure no one was left behind during a fire drill and that was done before the PL Director Katherine Earnest and the last librarians left.  Once outside we were told to move farther from the building and parking lot so couldn’t meet at our assigned spot.  Ms. Earnest and division supervisors called employees at home to account for everyone.  I know it must have taken quite a while and I’m not sure when Ms. Earnest arrived home.  Cell phones were not working by the time we were out of the building and moving.  The call volume had crashed the system.  I’m not sure when cell service was restored since I didn’t own a cell phone at the time. By the next day I heard that everyone was accounted for and all were unscathed.

6. How and when did you get home?

We had walked some distance from the parking lot and came to a road. A woman pulled her car to the side of the road and yelled out that she was headed to Alexandria and could give a ride to anyone who needed one.  I told my friends to jump in and we could go to my house.  I am eternally grateful to this woman and regret that even though she told us her name, none of us could remember it later.  She was a real good Samaritan to the 4 of us.

She asked where in Alexandria we wanted to go.  Since one of my friends lived in Maryland and rode the Metro to work, I asked her to drop us at the King Street Metro.  My house is within walking distance so the rest of us could go there and use our land line to call their families.

As we traveled towards Alexandria listening to the car radio, we were hearing all the confusing and sometimes inaccurate reports.  Traffic was getting heavy, and our angel was getting worried about getting home to her family.  She asked if we would mind if she dropped us off in Old Town rather than at the Metro.   I knew that she had saved us a lot of walking on a hot day and that we could easily walk from there.  We thanked her profusely as she dropped us off.  I only wish I could have thanked her more.

We were all hot, thirsty, and eager to contact our families.  We found a little shop where we could buy cold drinks and use a pay phone.  I was able to call my husband at home to tell him that I’m OK and will be arriving with friends. We walked to the Metro and checked that it was running through to Maryland.  I gave Shirley money for the ride home and my home phone number in case the Metro stranded her in Virginia and wished her luck. The rest of us continued on foot to my house.

7. How did you feel during and after the evacuation?

I didn’t feel in immediate danger of losing my life at any point.  I did feel shocked at what I saw happening in New York and that a plane crashed into my workplace.  I was relieved that there had been no smoke in the PL even though there was a fire not that far away in the building.  I knew from previous events that there could be a fire in a part of the Pentagon that I was not even aware of till the next day or more.  The building was built during wartime to withstand bombing and to limit damage.  That and its sheer size made me more confident that we could walk out safely. 

I was more concerned after I knew that it was a plane that struck the building and when we were told there was an unaccounted-for plane that might be headed for us.  It was a totally unplanned for type of evacuation so everyone was on their own when we were ordered to get away.  As we were walking, I was thinking how I’d get home if I wasn’t able to go back and find Ann.  Pentagon Metro was out of the question, Pentagon City would have meant going back through the south parking lot to cross under 395, and I wasn’t sure if Metro from Arlington Cemetery would have taken me past the Pentagon to get to Alexandria. I didn’t know the bus routes on streets near the Pentagon. I had used an express bus from Fairlington to the Pentagon on occasion but figured I’d have to change buses in order to get from Arlington to Alexandria. Everything was happening fast. News was sketchy and hard to come by as I walked so evaluating options was very difficult. I really didn’t have time to feel scared because I was trying to figure out what to do. When the wonderful lady offered us a ride, it beat all the options I had in mind.  I was very relieved to know I could get to Alexandria and confident that I’d be able to walk from there. I wasn’t sure what forms of public transportation were working or how well but I can walk 10 miles .

8. What did you do the next day or the next week?

I was told to stay home until notified where to report to work by my supervisor. On the 12th I talked with family and friends who called to see if I was OK, checked in with coworkers to see how they got home, and called a friend who worked across the street from the World Trade Center in NYC.  I don’t recall how long it was till we were told to report to an office building in Crystal City.  When we first arrived at our temporary space in recently vacated offices it had been stripped to the bare concrete floor, walls between rooms were sparse and showed signs that it was expected they would be replaced.  Furniture was an odd assortment of old metal desks and various chairs.  We didn’t have computers or access to internet so couldn’t really accomplish work tasks like database searches or looking for material in the library catalog. We moved several times to different locations in those office buildings as better space was available. Equipment improved and it felt less like being a refugee.

We could not access the library collection in the Pentagon or any personal belongings for 2 months. That part of the building was considered a crime scene and no one was allowed in.  It also took time for an assessment of the building to determine if it was structurally safe. There were fires in the roof area that had to be fought for days and more water was used. 

The PL Director was only able to go into the Library after a few weeks to assess what damage was done.  By that point there was water and mold from the water used to fight the fires. 

9. How were they able to save the materials in the library?  What was saved?  Did you have a role in that?

Most of the Library materials were saved due to the efforts of the PL Director.  She made the case for hiring a firm that specializes in remediation after fires or flooding.  They brought in fans and dehumidifiers to reduce the dampness and stop further mold growth.  I didn’t have any specific role in the efforts.  The PL staff were doing whatever tasks the Director assigned them.  I worked off site at the National Defense University Library for a short while because they offered office space and their computer access until we had that in the Crystal City offices.   

10. How long did it take for you to feel ‘normal’?   When were you first allowed back in the library?  

The Pentagon Library never felt normal to me again. The Library never reopened in the old space in wedge 2 or in the space that was designated in Wedge 1 before 9/11.  I left the Pentagon Library for another job in January 2002.  Books were moved into space in the Crystal City office building as the PL Director wrangled to get space anywhere in the Pentagon to provide service and let our community know we were still able to assist with their information needs.   

I recall that it was about 2 months before people were allowed back to get their purses, car keys, house keys, cell phones and important papers.  It was a hard hat area, no electricity for lights and instructions to not spend any more time than necessary getting only the most important items. Later we were allowed to clear out our desks.

11. Is there anything you would like to share with us about the experience?

I have led a very fortunate life.  From growing up in a loving middle-class family in rural central Pennsylvania, to having a rewarding career doing work I really enjoyed, to good health and good luck in more ways than I can count, I have benefited from circumstances beyond my control. I can’t claim to deserve the luck that allowed me to walk out of the Pentagon and have a total stranger offer me a ride home.  I think of the people who lost their lives, had injuries and a traumatic exit (like my carpool partner Ann), or the horrible journeys that some of my coworkers had getting home. I have no words to express my gratitude for a million things that could have gone wrong that didn’t for me on that memorable day.  My hope is that I can return the favor of the woman who went out of her way to assist strangers.

One way to assist strangers is to remind people to keep their Metro card (your local transit pass) and some form of money with their government badge.  In case you must evacuate quickly you will have means to get home.  If your workplace allows you to keep your phone at your desk or on your person, you may be able to keep your pass and money in your phone case.  Having a plan on how to get home or to some agreed upon meeting place really pays off in an emergency.  I doubt that anyone in Washington, DC expected to have to evacuate their workplace due to an earthquake when one struck in 2011.  Fires, shootings, and other extreme events can and do happen.  Please give some thought to how you could get home if something awful happens or how you would let your family/friends know where you are or where you would go if you can’t contact them by phone or email. Ask your supervisor if you don’t know the evacuation and meet up plan for your workplace.  

Rest in Peace, Midway Maddy

Midway Maddy has been one my favorite and most frequent celebrities to interview. Now Sirius does have a new dog star. With deep sadness, I share my friend, Bonnie’s email about Maddy, who passed away on May 6, 2021.

It is with incredible sadness that I am writing to let you know that our Maddy was killed earlier this morning.  Nancy took Maddy out for her morning walk, and Maddy was attacked by an Alaskan husky.  Nancy was able to get Maddy away from the larger dog, but Maddy died on the way to the hospital.

Maddy has been Nancy’s emotional support animal since 2010 when Nancy’s husband died in a tragic accident.  Recently Maddy has had medical issues, and several weeks ago she had two surgeries.  We all had our fingers crossed, and Maddy came through.  After the surgeries, Maddy and Nancy were livelier and happier than they had been in months because of the success of the medical treatments.

Maddy has accompanied Nancy for five years to the Midway.  Maddy even went through Docent training with Nancy, and she has been adored by many of the staff and volunteers.  Even when Nancy took Maddy out for comfort breaks, guests would come up and ask to take a photograph of Maddy or ask to have their picture taken with Maddy.  This past Wednesday, Nancy and Maddy passed 2,000 volunteer hours, and Nancy and Maddy had their picture taken by the Midway photographers.  It was so precious!  

Maddy and Nancy have been inseparable.  When Nancy  broke her arm last year, Maddy was in the ambulance and in the Emergency Room.  She would have been in the operating room, too, but Nancy sent her home.

As you can imagine, Nancy is having a really tough time.  Tonight, Nancy has two of her relatives staying with her, and several of the library volunteers have also volunteered to be with her.  Please keep our Nancy in your prayers.

Author Interview with JR Reddig, aka Vic Scotra

  1. From reading your introduction, Nick Danger was the manifestation of the Ranger being unable to relieve the Connie and the Midway riding to the rescue on its thousands of horsepower.  It was cross fertilized by the hours you whiled away reading Raymond Chandler.  Did you always intend to be a writer or was this a pre-Internet way to stay busy?

No, Ranger’s collision happened in the Straits of Malacca after we completed Indian Ocean Deployment #1. We had been relieved out there by- Coral Maru?- and returned to Japan after months gone. Ranger was headed to the IO to support Hostage Rescue operation “Eagle Claw” when she was struck by a merchant ship. Damage was significant.

With Ranger needing repair, she was directed to head for Yoko for repairs and we were directed to return to sea and assume Ranger’s role way out there after only a week or so ‘home” in Japan. There are many stories about the interpersonal relations of the Ranger crew and the Midway families while we were gone. Nick Danger was a project intended to relieve some of the anxiety and endless sameness of operating in a pleasant blue environment. We were in Perth Australia on IO #1 when word came about the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. We sortied north out of Freemantle, Perth’s port city, assuming we would head north to take station in the North Arabian sea. Instead, we were directed to proceed to Mombasa, Kenya, for a scheduled port visit. It was very cool, with a little apprehension about what was happening next.

2.  Which was more difficult, what you did with the squadron or keeping Danger’s adventures from flying too far afield?

They were literally the same thing. Afloat, we worked Squadron business as an integrated part of flight ops for Air Wing FIVE. The Air Intelligence officers assigned to the squadrons were seconded to the Carrier Intelligence Center- CVIC. We augmented the Ship’s company intelligence staff, performing the mission briefings and debriefing the aircrew on their return four hours after the brief. Also worked recognition issues, other training, handed out cameras and film, worked on relevant charts, answered questions and tried to keep them accurate. Merchant shipping was big on the sea lanes, and periodically SOVINDRON (Soviet Indian Ocean Squadron–not an official acronym, used by the CVIC) would deploy a submarine to keep us on our toes- nothing hostile, just interested. So it was all one kluge of unstoppable activity, of which Squadron mess treasurer (“Get more plaques made!”), legal officer blah blah went along with SERE school in California or Maine (Search, Evasion, Resistance and Escape), JEST (Jungle Evasion and Survival Training) in the Philippines to ensure we were all on the same sheet of music. SERE school was pretty interesting, beatings and waterboarding included, no extra charge. That was all part of working.

Liberty was very much like the bar scene in the original Star Wars film. It included Tokyo, Hong Kong, Subic Bay, Bangkok, Mombasa, Perth and Nairobi, among others. At the world-famous Grace Hotel Coffee Shop in Bangkok, they served the employees of the clubs on Pat Pong Road after the bars closed down. At the bar there, one of the other fighter guys shouted out: “Where am I going to find an Laotian lady at this hour?” He succeeded.

3. It seems like you published a chapter of Nick Danger every day?  Was this the schedule and how did you find the time to be a naval officer and a writer?

I tried to publish something every day that the Midway Multiplex would print. The trick was to try to do something we all knew about in a unique environment. The PacMan game machine in the Dirty Shirt Wardroom was worth several issues and plot changes. It was written in the same way we did operational things. In between flight operations or in a spare half hour between one thing and another (the only other things were eating, sleeping or working out), I would jam some paper in an IBM SelEctric typewriter, bang on it for a while and then run it down to the newsletter guys. There was, I heard later, some mild controversy over the idea that one of the squadron guys was generating the continuing story, but RADM Bob Kirksey apparently thought it was good for morale or something, and I tried to stay a bootstrap away of anything that would get in the way of good order and discipline. Apparently it worked. Racy enough for the time without being too disruptive. But to a crew used to the Philippines, we were indeed the Navy’s “Foreign Legion” in perpetual motion.

4. What is the significance of Nick Danger, Third Eye?  Is he psychic or does it have some other meaning?

It was an idea borrowed from the Firesign Theater, a comedy troop of deranged hipsters popular in the early 1970s. The term ‘Third Eye’ was their attempt at jamming the vaguely spiritual references of the crazy late sixties (Hindu and others) and 1940s cinema noir into the reality that we were actually a ship of war on what appeared to be the razor blade of conflict.t we were actually a ship of war on what appeared to be the razor blade of conflict.

5. What is the relationship between JR Reddig and Vic Socotra?

JR was a new Ensign fresh out of NIOBC (Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course) and volunteered for Midway, then considered a two year ‘hardship’ tour. After two IO deployments from Japan, they offered him a one-year tour in Korea at USFK (U.S. Forces, Korea) to “get even” with the other Intel folks who got three year tours at CONUS-(Continental United States) based squadrons and ships. I was irate about that, still in the Foreign Legion mode in Korea and wrote a fun book about it called “The Snake Ranch Papers,” named after our hooch at Yongsan Garrison at Seoul. I actually got more operational time in Navy and Joint before it was cool. Then OSIS (Ocean Surveillance Information System) and anti-Soviet sub analysis as things got strange with the Soviet Union. Writing a newspaper on the floor of the stock exchange is how one watch officer described it. 

Korea time included a military coup in Korea, civil Unrest at Kwangju, Analogous Response ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) ops in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor and best fun.
With Cold War, Persian Gulf War and GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) were four or five undeclared but real contingency ops, mostly focused on the Persian Gulf. Other assignments included organizing Congressional Travel to Haiti, Burma, PRC (People’s Republic of China) & Pyongyang, and more excitement. Writing about it meant a certain dual tasking and processing of life, since I was supposed to provide accurate notes as “aides memoire” to the trips and then I could play with it if I got time. As with all things Midway, it was part of a continuous process of all sorts of unrelated things jammed into one very large one of operating a nuclear-armed (“I can neither confirm nor deny!”) mobile airfield far from America’s shores.

“Vic” came from the early days on Midway in the northern Arabian Sea. Much later I was working at CIA HQ on the Community Management Staff in Y2K times. The Farm- the CIA training facility on the Neck- had done some business conducting classified seminars for Government customers, and we were billeted behind the fence for a couple of those sessions.

The place is interesting, and includes property that was once colonial. The house where the last Royal Governor of Virginia hung out was one of the interesting parcels. I did a photo journalist story about the place- nothing about who ran the facility or why. I duly submitted it for Agency review prior to posting it. They said “no” because “the location is classified.” Now, the fact that everyone on two rivers knew what and who ran the place was irrelevant. 
I decided to keep doing what I was doing, but nothing more about the Royal Governor, nor what we call “True Name” blogging. There were a lot of people at Langley  operating in various manifestations- covered, uncovered, ambiguous, so things like pen-names were common not only in professional tradecraft but social situations.

Vic Socotra is the phrase we used for Soviets operating (or hanging on the hook) in the approaches to the Suez via the Gulf of Aden at Great Socotra Island. When we arrived at what became GONZO Station, we would say it something like “Soviet Indian Ocean Squadron NOB continues routine operations in the vicinity of Great Socotra Island.” That lasted a couple weeks since they normally were doing nothing. It soon became “SOVINDRON vic Socotra NTR.” Or, better said, nothing to report.

Vic Socotra became a more general locational phrase to identify things happening at the SOVINDRON anchorage, or in the general vicinity of the island, toward the entrance to the shipping channel up the Red Sea.

 6. The Midway seems to cast a spell over  many of its crew and now it’s volunteers.  What spell did it cast over you?  Did any other job ever come close to the Midway’s Magic?

Phil Eakin in JR Reddig’s Midway Stateroom. JR graduated from the bottom left to the top left bunk.

Yes. And yes. Yes, no, yes. This is one of your volunteers, who asked what bunkroom I lived in for two years, and then sent me a picture of what it looks like now. Sleep was precious there. I still could reset the circuit breaker out in the passageway in the deep silent darkness when the line tripped out. Nick Danger happened because the lunk private detective seemed to be just what we needed at the time. Ever have a job that occasionally meant hanging out of the moving helicopter at ten thousand feet tracking a missile shoot? Once, suiting up and strapping on the back seat of a 55,000lb. Phantom fighter, being hurled off the front end of a moving Midway to go feet-dry and pass Mt. Fujiyama inverted before a routine recovery on the field at Atsugi Naval Air station? The one that still had hard-stands for the Zero fighters that once operated from there against us? Meeting one of their then-ancient aces- Warrant Officer Saburo Sakai, thanking him for his service and hospitality in his land? 

7. Your blog, is deliciously ambiguous.  I love your tag line “Purveyor of Glib Words to the World.”  How long did it take you to come up with that and has it been difficult to live up to that motto?

That all gets to the nature of what I have done for fifty years. It started before the internet, of course, and when I saw or did something I thought was interesting, I would write a letter about it, addressed to one or two folks and with enough carbon paper to keep a copy. There is a body of that stuff from Midway around someplace, and another one or two about the last cruise of the IJN Nagato, initially the same sort of thing I did penned by the American XO who took the Japanese battleship down to Bikini Atoll for the Crossroads atomic tests. Great story he did not finish, and may have been one of the Navy people who died young because of radiation exposure. He was a great pal of my Uncles, and his papers were all I had. Part of the dynamic tension in the business was that we wrote for a living- taking the words from the aircrew or the meeting or the trip and crafting them into a narrative that made sense. That stuff was stark and hard edged and based on fact. Taking those sorts of situations and breathing things into them for context- non-frightening context-was the ability to use a slippery glib word for something intensely real. Describing a routine catapult shot on a routine relocation hop. Drama and routine all wrapped up in one- the essence of the Midway experience. She also was home to pals who went to war on her in the Gulf. She is a ship of magic.

8. If life is a conspiracy theory, which theory do you find most plausible?

This week demonstrates the whole thing. I lived the sixties- all of them- as a teen. A President was murdered in public. Then a spiritual leader of great stature was shot down on a motel balcony. And then a brother of the murdered President was shot campaigning for the same office. And the attempts on the lives of other Presidents and governors of Southern states. None of them had much explanation, except for “deranged lone gunmen/women.” Now, we have a clumsy attempt to insert millions of bogus votes in an attempt to remove a legitimately elected President on a fraudulent vote count that is the product of increasing fraudulent activity that incudes our 7th District of Virginia Congressional representation. The idea that hundreds- thousands- of people who swore the same oath to defend the Constitution that I did- participated in this and that it seems about to be successful, and maybe permanent. I find this all wildly improbable in the nation in which I was raised. I think there is the distinct possibility that it is true.

9. What are your current literary inspirations?

I wrote as things happened, and cleaned it up when I could spare the time. The best effort is a biography of an older pal named Donald “Mac” Showers, one of the last survivors of the station HYPO codebreaking group at Pearl from WWII. Unlike most, he had no civilian job to return to after the end of hostilities since he was so young, and stayed in. I came to his attention through my use of a disparaging- glib, if you will- term about General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. I called him “Doug-out Doug” in some social context and it concerned Mac because his boss, Chester Nimitz had a primary directive: “Don’t disrespect the General.” We got over that and became friends. The very idea of getting the Japanese to disclose their target at Midway atoll happened at the corner of Mac’s desk in The Dungeon at Pearl Harbor, conceived by the legendary Jasper Holmes. So that was fun and took a couple years of meetings. But we traveled together through the big Defense reorganization of 1948, and the creation of CIA and NSA, and the later abuses that occurred, and the fixes to the scandals of Watergate, and establishment of the FISA Court system, and his final retirement with the current Intelligence Community I served. The last volume is about the ten-year decline of his beloved wife to early onset Alzheimers, and what it takes to live a 26-hour-day with dementia sufferers and their loved ones. My Dad was doing the same thing when he told me what it was going to be like, so it was personal and real. All the Intel issues he worked are now back in full bloom, so real life with him was also time traveling into the past and future. Anyway, that book is complete, but deserves proper traditional treatment.

Others in Process:

“The Lucky Bunch:” Naval Intelligence and the Mob in New York and The Castle on the Hudson. Fun with Lucky Luciano.

“Love and War in the West.” Civil war family romance amid the Rebel and Yankee aligned recent Irish immigrant community in a tumultuous America. Really fun, and true.

“Snake Ranch Papers” a 14-month one year tour in the Republic of Korea during a military coup conducted by Lt. Gen Chon tu Hwan.

“Boondoggle” Congressional travel in a Haitian-Burmese-North Korean crisis. Oriented to fine hotels in pariah nations.

“Tales from Big Pink,” life in the remarkable Arlington, VA, in the go-go decade that followed Y2K.

“Cruisebook,” the last Cold War Med Cruise 1989-90 as the Wall Comes Tumbling Down and the long struggle….ends?

There are a couple others, including a cookbook I was working on with pal Jinny Martin. She had been an attache wife, and I asked her, and pals from the circuit for sure-fire dishes to prepare when Hubby says he is coming over with the Hungarian delegation for drinks. It was fun, while in progress with lots of photos. I edited her group’s memories of having families in the Philippines and Japan in Cold War times.

And cars- Dad was assistant head of design at American Motors, and he was in that crowd of forward thinkers and creative artists. I came home from high school one afternoon and his gang had a collection of racing machines in the driveway, including a Ferrari Testa Rosa. We were part of it all- first ticket was 120-in-a-50 violation in a pals 440RT Charger while still on my learners permit. Other memorable rides included the Syclone World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck, the black-and-white-beetle convertible “Shamu” and the 1959 Rambler Cross Country station wagon that Dad designed. Fun stuff in the go-fast years.

Currently in work is a book called “Swamp Postcards,” devoted to this crazy year, and “The Seventy Days” between the election and what is coming next. Glib words conceal the humorous enormity of what is going on in the wide world and right here

10. If somebody asked you why, how do you respond?

I am a predigital creature, but collected sights and situations that were interesting were always…interesting. I felt we lived in times that had a historic aspect, having studied them in college, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and Harvard’s JFK school of Government later. Seeing how it really works was something that kept me going, in the Fleet and Washington and on the streets of places like Pyongyang. It made telling the story of it fun, even if living in the lower rack of a four man compartment on a WWII ship was a necessary part of the whole story. I volunteered for Japan duty out of a failed attempt of the heart, and what the meaning of being alive really is. I still don’t know, but it is…interesting. This is the first time in life that things are not hurtling from one thing to another without respite. It is a treat to be able to look back at it all with wonder.

For readers interested in reading some of Nick Danger’s adventures, check out Vic Socotra’s website.

For readers interested in reading some of Nick Danger’s adventures, check out Vic Socotra’s website.

Interview with author Teagan R. Geneviene

Teagan, blogger and author of the Delta Pearl a serialized steam-punk novel, is publishing a fantasy novel Dead of Winter on Saturday, January 2. This is an interview about her new book and her writing.

1)  When and why did you make the switch from this type of fantasy to the lighter fantasy of the Delta Pearl? 

I was an avid reader of fantasy, particular “high fantasy,” so that was the genre I chose when I first took writing seriously.  I’m actually surprised that I ever wrote anything else. 

When I made public, my “three things method of storytelling,” I let those reader things completely drive every aspect of that story.  It turned out to be a 1920s mystery.  My stories spontaneously evolved into the steampunk tales you’ve seen on my blog in recent years. (Universal link to The Three Things Serial Story )

2)  The harsh religious elders that forbid the education of girls reminds me a bit of the Handmaid’s Tale.  Did that  influence this tale at all?

No.  Back in 2014, I cut the cable cord with Comcast and network television. I never went back.  I don’t know when “The Handmaid’s Tale” was published.  Of course, I’ve seen some of the ads for the TV version.  However, I’ve never read it or watched it, or even investigated it.  You aren’t the only person to ask that question. I really should look into that story.

3)  You must have wanted to scream when Game of Thrones came out with your title, Dead of Winter.  You said you wrote 800 pages—have you edited the book back in the years since  you wrote it?  Did the break change what you wanted to do with the story?

I think I actually did scream.  I try to describe it in a funny way, but it really was hugely demoralizing.  I began to think I’d never finish the rest of the story… but I was determined.

No.  I did some editing right after I typed “the end” on the final page, but in my disappointment, I shelved Dead of Winter.  The story and the characters stayed with me, reminding me now and then that it was waiting.  Naturally I’m editing the “journeys” (the novelette-sized installments) now.  My writing style has evolved during the past decade. Plus, I’d never publish a work without intensive editing.

4)  You really weave geography into your story.  Do you draw maps of your world before or as you create them?  Whereas the Delta Pearl seems Mississippi River and tributaries centric, this one seems like it is straight from the British Isles.

No.  Although I’ve always wished I had one of those marvelous maps you find in high fantasy stories!  I love those things.  I tried, ten years ago to make one, but I didn’t get very far.  Maybe that will be a new creative project for me.

The Delta Pearl, may or may not be on our earth.  It may or may not be a parallel world. It just is.  I’ve never specified where it is.  Dead of Winter is pure fantasy.  It is not set in our world.  However, it looks and sounds a lot like parts of our world.  Something I picked up from studying the work of Robert Jordan, David Eddings, and Terry Brooks is that making a place similar to one with which the reader is already familiar, causes the reader to automatically flesh-out the imagery.  That way, the author doesn’t have to bog down the storytelling with excessive descriptions.

5)  You have written a number of  pieces, as listed on the front of Dead of Winter.  Do you have a favorite among your writings?

Oh… I never really thought of it that way.  Hmmm…  (Ha! Can you imagine dozens of characters in my head right now, all clamoring for me to say their story is my favorite?)  I definitely have some favorite characters.  A couple of them are in novels that are still waiting for me to finalize them.

The Dead of Winter overall manuscript is filled with over 300 characters and places.  All those names were from my research.  I’ve put a list of them at the end of the first novelette – Journey 1, Forlorn Peak.  That list will grow with each new journey.  Anyhow, several of those characters are dear to me.  I had quite a crush on one named Ta’jin.  He won’t come into the story until later.

6) What is your favorite part of writing—first draft, editing, adding graphics, marketing?  What do you dislike the most of the whole process?

My favorite part of writing is “world building,” developing the world of the story.  That includes thorough research.  Fantasy stories warrant dedicated research, just like any other genre.  Unfortunately, world building has little to do with creating the plot.  That’s probably my downfall.  I make a world, fall in love with it, and then worry about the plot.

7)  I am fascinated with your use of the white wolf.  

“The wolf is an ongoing mystery in the overall story. However, that is as much as I can reveal about it right now.  That would be a huge spoiler.”

8)  You have an affinity for the whole punk genre from diesel to steam.  Do you have a favorite era that you would prefer to write about or a favorite area of the world that you would like to explore with your writing?  I don’t think this is a punk genre—is that an accurate guess?

That’s right, Dead of Winter is high fantasy, not any sort of punk.  It’s a non-technology world, pre-industrial.

Pair of Horses from Dreamstime

However, you’re also correct that I enjoy writing punk in its various forms.  I’m a research geek.  The retro-futuristic technologies that are a common element in punk stories give me hours and hours of research and exploration fun.  As I learn about the tech, I’m inspired with more details for the stories.

 9)  You mention the Deae Matres, as being a society of women who travel the world, in search of knowledge.  Could they really be… Are the Deae Matres actually…

Yes, Pat. The Society of Deae Matres are the librarians of Dead of Winter.

Universal Purchase Links

Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak



Carol Eakin’s COD Sea Stories

COD is Carrier on Board Delivery. Although the delivery is usually mail, provisions, or supplies/replacement parts, it can also include passengers. Carol Eakin shares her COD experience. Carol is the Military Events Manager on the USS Midway Museum.

Yes, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in one of the Navy’s DV programs on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).  

Distinguished Visitor Embark Program: Showing Off Our Military to Civilians – GuysGirl The Navy’s Distinguished Visitor embark program invites civilians to land, stay the night and take off from an aircraft carrier. I was lucky enough to be invited and share my experience of this trip of a lifetime.

I think there were 8 – 10 other guests on the same program.  It had been cancelled twice prior which is why I got the opportunity as a ‘last minute’ addition.  Many of the original participants were from out of state, so had previously cancelled flights and accommodation both times, so some couldn’t make the third date.
In addition to the COD flight, trap and catapult launch we were able to watch aircraft launches in the afternoon and landings that evening.  One of the returning planes did not make it which resulted in a pilot recovery – not something that happens a lot.  It was  definitely unfortunate but a great opportunity to see how effective their training is.  The pilot ejected and was safely recovered by helo (by a 19 yo diver who had only been on the ship for 2 weeks!!)
We also got to witness an underway replenishment which I was really interested in as my Dad had several photos of similar from when he was deployed in the RAN.
It was a super experience which exemplified the skill and ability of all onboard.  It also gave me a better appreciation for all the teamwork and training that goes into a successful carrier operation.  I am so grateful that I got the opportunity – it was one of the best experiences of my life 🙂

Carol on the flight deck of the Carl Vinson

Interview with Eloisa Bordador, Artist and Illustrator

  1. How long have you volunteered on the Midway and what projects  have you worked on or are working on?

Officially, I sat down to meet with Phil for the Proceedings October of 2019. Since then, I have been assigned to write summaries for the Midway Currents Membership Magazine, the USS Midway Currents and other publications during deployment where I also collected all the sailor names for the Midway Museum’s Crew Look Up Database. I was also lucky to have designed the Library’s annual Halloween shirt, which has inspired a children’s book -written by a fellow Library volunteer- that is still in the works. Most recently, I have been assigned to the Midway Art project where I will document and compile a database of all crew artwork all over the ship. This is exciting because a lot of never seen areas of the ship will come to light and these smaller pieces of history and the people behind it will be acknowledged.

  1. Do you have any Midway projects you would like to do or recommend?

The USS Midway Currents project is something I really enjoy doing because I learn a lot of history that I didn’t necessarily learn at school. And now giving this current world situation where certain distancing is more recommended, it’s a project a volunteer can easily work on remotely. 

I am really looking forward to the Midway Art project and I’m hoping to be able to move forward in light of the current events.

  1. How have you liked the book project so far?  When you created the design for this year’s t-shirt did you ever think it would become a book?  Maddy said she was interested in  a Maddy plush toy when I interviewed her and Nan.  Have you thought about turning your drawing of Maddy into a toy?

I’ll be honest with you, I did not go into designing the Halloween shirt thinking it will become something other than that. I was quite surprised when the book idea came about but glad to accept the opportunity! In the back of my mind, I have been wanting to print something with my art or my photographs in it but never figured out how to put it all together. So maybe it’s kismet. 

Oh my goodness, a Maddy toy! It can be done. Let me get back to you on that. 

  1. What training have you had as an artist?  Have you done this professionally or is it  more of a hobby?  Where is your artwork displayed?

I went to art school in the Philippines, much to my mother’s disdain, who said there was no money in it and I should’ve just stuck with advertising. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design and that’s how I learned to paint. My Introduction to Watercolour professor, Mrs. Quizon’s first words to me were, “You need more water, that’s why it’s called watercolour.” When I moved to California for a more business minded Project Management course, I learnt to paint using acrylics. I taught workshops, painted animal portraits. The animal portraits were what landed me the Clairemont Utility Box project, where I was awarded three utility boxes: Clairemont Dr. and Knapp, Clairmont Dr. and Calle Neil, and Burgener Blvd., which is right by the Clairemont Public Library.  That was a really fun and exciting project and I think I enjoyed it as much as the neighbourhood did, seeing the paintings change daily. 

  1. What is your favorite type of artwork to do?  What is your preferred medium to work with?

I enjoy nature and animals as subjects. I don’t have to be too precious about it when I paint them because they are not “perfect.” I am getting into more technical things as well such as automotive and motorcycles.  Quite a distinct opposite of nature, because mechanical objects are what you see is what you get and you have to get the actual likeness for it to make sense. With all this work I am doing lately, it has been mostly acrylic and I do miss watercolour but it has it’s limitations on what I can work on, as well as time constraints. With watercolour, I have to be patient and wait for the paint to dry before I can continue. 

  1. What  would you like to do with your art work in the future?  Training, jobs, shows?

I would like to continue working on art that would go into print, possibly more books or in magazines and make a living out of it. In this era of technology, it’s nice to see print media making a comeback and also that books are still favoured by people. It’s been ages since I’ve been in an exhibit so that would be nice to participate in, in future. But what I would like, for right this minute, is to attend an art class. I want to be in the receiving end for a little bit, relearn and learn some skills and not have to stress if the client thinks their painting is wonky.

  1. Did you have  any affiliation with the Navy before volunteering on the Midway?

Yes and no. When I was being trained to do a Crew Look Up, I stumbled into access and decided to trace back some of my family. I found out that my great grandad on my father’s side (his maternal grandfather) served in the US Navy. This was in between the early 50s – late 60s and back then Filipinos were only allowed to serve as Mess Attendants and not be considered fully enlisted. He was quite a few ships travelling between New York, San Francisco and Japan, and was granted citizenship. At one point he became a Head Cook. My father said he made delicious food. It’s a pity he was much older and retired before Filipinos were allowed into any department in the Navy. I’m proud that I do have some of that Navy blood. Sailors gotta eat, even if they were not the fighting ones!

  1. Are you a native San Diegan or where did you grow up and live?

I moved to San Diego in the Spring of 2019 when my husband was transferred for work. Before that we were living in Long Beach. Originally, I am from the Philippines, born and raised, then moved to California 14 years ago. Out of the places I’ve lived, I like San Diego the best. There is no other like it.

  1. How do you balance  your work,  your volunteer activities and family life?

I don’t! Sometimes, I feel like I am all over the place but luckily it is my Midway volunteer work that helps me sort everything else out. I made it where I come aboard once a week and the rest of what I do goes around that. I am embarrassed to admit, that only recently, I have figured out how to make it all work together, where I also meet my work deadlines, get on with house admin and family life, and social life. So I guess, there it is -Midway Magic